THE DEACON AND THE JEWESS; OR, APOSTASY AT COMMON LAW

In the year 1222, Archbishop Stephen Langton held at Oxford a provincial council, and of this council one result was that a deacon was burnt, burnt because he had turned Jew for the love of a Jewess.

I propose here to set in order the scattered evidence that we have for this story. This, so far as I am aware, has not yet been done, and it seems worth doing. The story became famous, for the passage in which Bracton made mention of it became the main, almost the only, support for the statement that English common (that is, non statutory) law can and will burn a heretic. We have indeed no warrant for saying that from the death of this deacon until the death of Sautre in 1401 no one in England was burnt for heresy, but we may say with some confidence that during this long period, near

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